This project helped the interactive team at AJAM figure out how we were going to do long-form, immersive narrative storytelling.
On remote Native American reservations, little broadband or wireless access exists. Instead of using the phones and computers that are commonplace in the rest of the United States, many reservations rely heavily on radio to communicate to residents, especially during emergencies.
Reporter Tristan Ahtone writes: "Anecdotal evidence suggests that only 10 percent of Indian Country has access to broadband Internet service. For example, on the Navajo Nation — an area about the size of Ireland — only about 20 percent of the population has access to broadband or 4G cellphone services, making technology like radio vital to tribal members."
To illustrate this, I researched an interactive map that made these communication holes easy to see.
FM radio stations must file a range shapefile with the FCC. Using a list of Native American radio stations, I collected each one and eventually merged them into one shapefile. Then I located a broadband access map. When you put these two datasets together, you can easily visualize what Ahtone describes in his reporting: a net, with holes filled by tribal radio.
We found that we needed to add a tab to allow readers to easily see Alaska, which has very little broadband, but many stations. We also linked to online streams of each radio station on click so users could also get a flavor of the sound.
In other parts of the project, we embedded simple audio clips of broadcasts, some of which are in native languages.
This project won first place for best online feature story from the Native American Journalists Association.